Someone on the leadership team suggested it would be a good idea to identify our values. The regular agenda for the leadership team meetings was already jam-packed, and no one had time for an extra meeting to do this work, so the task was assigned to a few volunteers to bring back to the team.
Seeing values as separate from the real work. The leaders delegated and disengaged. By taking the time as a team to discuss what values they believed were critical to their future, they would have discovered how these values drive the very behaviors they need to accomplish the work.
|The sub-group members understood it was not a good idea to do the work in isolation, so in an effort to be inclusive, they sent out a survey to the everyone in the organization.
|Lack of conversation. It is only through involvement and dialogue that values becomes more than words on paper – where people clearly understand them and become commited to living them.
|The survey instructions asked people to list their top five values. (The mission statement was not attached).
|Failure to connect values with purpose or vision. Organizational values need to be more than a reflection of the collective personal values of its members. Because values guide behavior and decision-making, it is important to choose the values that are needed to guide the organization into the future. Simply identifying the values that currently exist describes where you are, but these are not necessarily the values needed to help you get where you want to do.
|The sub-group had a lively and energizing meeting in which they reviewed the survey results and shared their own views on what values were important. They selected five values: honesty, relationships, teamwork, profitability, and passion.
|Failure to be descriptive. Words mean different things to different people. It is important to provide a clear definition and examples of what the behaviors look like for each of these words.
|At the next leadership team meeting, the sub-group presented their results. They were congratulated on their work and thanked for their efforts. The leaders believed the task had been accomplished, and there was no further discussion on the subject. The values were published and listed on the website. Today, nothing is different as a result of this activity; and if you ask leaders what the values are, they would need to look them up.
|Lack of accountability. No processes were set up to monitor whether the values were being modeled by leaders or lived throughout the organization, to help resolve values conflicts, or to provide consequences for serious violations. Without accountability, the effort of identifying values becomes simply an activity to check off a list, rather than a guiding force in your organization.